When to get permission

Whenever you make a new recording of an existing recording that someone else made, even if it's just a small sample (such as audio samples, karaoke tracks, or background tracks), you need a master license. Licenses should be secured before you use the music. Because of the complexity of master licenses, we suggest making your request many months ahead of your release, and also having a backup plan in case your request is denied. Reputable manufacturers require proof of licensing before they will duplicate copyrighted material. You do not need to license songs that you wrote yourself or songs that you know are in the public domain.

Whenever you need a master license for CDs or digital downloads, you also need a mechanical license. The master license pays only the artist for the right to use their recording; the mechanical license pays the composer for the right to use their song.

Whenever you need a master license for DVDs or video, you also need a synchronization license. The master license pays only the artist for the right to use their recording; the synchronization license pays the composer for the right to use their song.

The ℗ symbol

Most people are familiar with the copyright symbol, the c with a circle around it: ©. Did you know there is a similar symbol to recognize copyright ownership of a recorded audio? It is a p with a circle around it: ℗. Look for this symbol on the back of an album to learn who owns the copyright to the recorded audio.

How the royalties are paid

You pre-pay royalties upfront based on a custom-negotiated fee. When you hire us, we deliver your request to the copyright holder, negotiate the fee, and present it to you. If you accept, we collect the entire fee from you (which includes the royalties), and then send 100% of the royalties on to the copyright holder. If you need to reorder, a new license is negotiated. You have the option to follow all these steps yourself or hire us for assistance through our custom licensing services.

How to get permission

Master licenses are custom-negotiated upfront with the copyright holder and are quite complex. For these types of licenses, check out our custom licensing services or contact us.

Challenges of licensing existing recordings

Master licenses require custom negotiations with the copyright holder. Custom licensing can be challenging because, by law, the copyright holders maintain total control of their works. This means they can set any fee, take all the time they need, and reject the license outright. For this reason, it is important to temper expectations when licensing existing audio recordings. Many factors affect the response, including budget, use, and even the current workload of the copyright holder’s processing department.

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